11 March 2007

Why Calvinism Necessitates Premillennialism

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson



The PyroManiacs devote space at the beginning of each week to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. This excerpt is from a sermon titled "The Man with the Measuring Line," preached Sunday morning, 11 December 1864. Spurgeon's words resonate wonderfully with John MacArthur's much-discussed opening message from last week's Shepherds' Conference.

am not given to prophesying, and I fear that the fixing of dates and periods has been exceedingly injurious to the whole system of premillennial teaching; but I think I clearly see in Scripture that the Lord Jesus Christ will come—so far I go, and take my stand—that he will come personally to reign upon this earth.

At his coming it appears clear to me that he will gather together the Jewish people, that Jerusalem shall become the metropolis of the new empire which shall then extend from pole to pole, from the river even to the ends of the earth. If this be a correct interpretation of prophecy, you may read the whole of Zechariah 2 through and understand it; you have the key to every sentence: without such a belief; I see not how to interpret the prophet’s meaning.

Dear friends, we may sometimes refresh our minds with a prospect of the kingdom which is soon to cover all lands, and make the sun and moon ashamed by its superior glory. We are not to indulge in prophesyings as some do, making them our spiritual food, our meat and drink; but still we may take them as choice morsels, and special delicacies set upon the table; they are condiments which may often give a sweeter taste, or, if you will, a greater pungency and savor to other doctrines; prophetic views light up the crown of Jesus with a superior splendor; they make his manhood appear illustrious as we see him still in connection with the earth: to have a kingdom here as well as there; to sit upon a throne here as well as in yonder skies; to subdue his adversaries even upon this Aceldama, as in the realm of spirits; to make even this poor earth upon which the trail of the serpent is so manifest, a place where the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

If our view of prophecy be the correct one, it seems to be in perfect harmony with all the doctrines of the gospel. God certainly did elect his people the Jews; he made a covenant with his servant Abraham, and albeit you will remind us that this was only a temporal covenant, I would remind you that it was the type of the spiritual one, and it would be an unhappy reflection for us if the typical covenant should prove to be only temporary as well as temporal; if that came to an end, and if God cast away, in any sense, the people whom he did foreknow, it might augur to us the ill foreboding that mayhap he might cast away his spiritual seed also, and that those who were chosen as the spiritual seed of Abraham, might yet be cut off from the olive into which they had been grafted. If the natural branches are cast away for ever, why not the grafted branches too?

But here is our joy, the God who sware unto his servant Abraham that to him and to his seed would he give the land for ever, hath not gone back from his word; they shall possess the land; their feet shall joyously tread its fruitful acres yet again; they shall sit every man under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and none shall make them afraid; and so the spiritual seed to whom the spiritual heritage is given as by a covenant of salt, they also shall possess their heritage for ever, and of their rightful portion no robber shall despoil them.

C. H. Spurgeon




Note: Debates over eschatological charts and end-times fine points are virtually always off-topic here at PyroManiacs. For the comment-thread under this post, however, we'll make a brief exception to our usual rule, especially since this subject has already been batted around so enthusiastically for several days by our friends and our adversaries alike. Feel free to post your personal observations or arguments about the above remarks by Spurgeon.

If you're looking for a discussion of John MacArthur's opening Shepherds' Conference message, that's not actually the point of this post or the discussion thread below. If that's what you want to talk about—especially if you mainly want to fulminate, please head over to Challies or to the Pulpit Live blog, where that discussion is already taking place.


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83 comments:

c.t. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CraigS said...

There is no way you can possibly justify that horrible comment CT. Awful.

Richard said...

I have a question. What if one were to say that they do take the promises of the OT literally and believes they will be fulfiled. But then says because the NT says the church was grafted in and made one that now we inherit the promises too. Not instead but as well. God is still faithful to Israel because they still receive the promises but gentiles receive them too. Do you think this discounts the literalness of the OT promises?

Jason Alligood said...

C.T., this sort of derogatory comment is totally unnecessary and shows to me a lack of any ability to show Christian charity or civility, and furthermore a lack of ability to deal with disagreements from the text of Scripture.

Phil and crew, Thanks for your commitment to showing us the richness of historical Biblical Christianity.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I wholeheartedly disagree with the commenter 'ct'.

But I do think that the premise of this argument is built upon a faulty understanding of God's elective works with Israel.

When God elected the nation of Israel, the purpose of their election was bless all nations. This would be accomplished through the Messiah.
Every single Jew was not chosen for salvation. That has never been true in any 'dispensation'.
The elective purposes of God in salvation were accomplished through Israel, and include Israel, but 'For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel'. (Rom. 9:6)
Paul in these words sets up two distinct ways of interpreting the 'Israel'. Otherwise, his statement makes no sense.
As we continue to read, Paul makes the point of saying that God has not rejected the people he has foreknown. (Rom. 11:2) Verse seven of the same chapter tells us that Israel failed to receive what it was seeking, except for the elect in Israel.
We as Gentiles, also elect of God to inherit the blessing (Gen. 12:1-3), have been grafted into God's true Israel, that is, the Israel which is not merely national or physical, but Spiritual Israel, those who were chosen for salvation. So the Gentiles are included in the one man that God has ordained from the beginning. (Eph. 2:11-16)

Now, for my covenantal friends...
Romans 11:17-25 seems to me to say that just as we (gentiles) are now the majority in the 'olive tree', there is coming a time when the majority will turn back to the Jews.

And back to my Dispensationalist friends...
Romans 11:26 does not in any way refer to national Israel, but rather the 'true Israel', the 'Israel of God', or the 'new man'.

The point is, even if you don't believe this, it is an absurd claim to say something like, "...if God cast away, in any sense, the people whom he did foreknow, it might augur to us the ill foreboding that mayhap he might cast away his spiritual seed also, and that those who were chosen as the spiritual seed of Abraham, might yet be cut off from the olive into which they had been grafted."
No Calvinist of any stripe believes that any of those that God has chosen for salvation will be lost.
National Israel's purpose has been fulfilled. Why must we push the issue? There is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one new man in Christ Jesus.

My comment verifiaction for this post was 'cjewg', which as a non-cessationist, I take as a prophetic symbol meaning, Christ, Jew, Gentile have been combined into one.

JSB said...

I think Grudem hits the correct tone when he states a certain amount of tentativeness is called for on this issue. It's possible to make a good case for either position (I'm not sure about PostMil as a third alternative). Ultimately, for me at least, it revolves around how the NT itself interprets OT prophecy, and that leads me to the Amil side. But I respect the opposing view.

Re: Spurgeon's text, I don't see the issue as properly framed. It is not a matter of God "casting away" his covenant people, but in Christ fulfilling his promises in a better and higher and more glorious way than the OT audience could know at the time. Progressive revelation.

Phil Johnson said...

Note: CT was banned from here many months ago for spamming the comments-thread with the most vile profanities (among other transgressions). If he/she/it comments again, please ignore the comment, and one of us will delete it ASAP.

Steven said...

I am premillennial and Calvinistic. With my discussions with Amillennial friends none of them hold that Israel has been rejected but that Gentiles have been grafted into the same body (Romans 11 and Ephesians 3). The New Testament fulfills His covenant with Abraham.

I know this is a rather over simplistic summary, but to say Calvinism necessitates premillennialism because premillennialism is the guardian of God’s preserving covenant with Israel is to miss the teaching of what amillennialism is saying.

I believe I agree with Spurgeon’s eschatology, but don’t agree that doctrines of grace necessitates premillennial eschatology (whether it be dispensational pre-trib, pre-wrath, post-trib, or historical premil).

May God give is grace and peace toward one another as we continue to grow in the knowledge of His Word.

Steve

Robert Ivy said...

Jeremy and JSB,

If you think the purpose of ethnic Israel's election was merely to bless the nations, then why did Paul write in Rom 9:6, "But it is not as though the word of God has failed."? Or, perhaps even more pointedly Rom 9:4: "to [Israelites] belong adoption." Obviously inspired Paul had in mind that God's covenant with Israel would have failed if they had only given us the Messiah. In 9:5, the Messiah is spoken of as an "and" to what Israel had been promised, not as an "only" of what Israel has been promised.

I think Spurgeon gets it right here.

And because I can never resist an opportunity... I think Spurgeon also does an excellent job in this sermon of showing why prophecy is not needed since it is not our "spiritual food, our meat and drink." But still prophecy is desirable, "as choice morsels, and special delicacies set upon the table." And therefore it is a gift worth pursuing, "they are condiments which may often give a sweeter taste, or, if you will, a greater pungency and savor to other doctrines."

But please don't comment on that... I don't think the Pyro's would like to get sidetracked on that here.

Phil Johnson said...

Robert:

Good comment. But it's OK to pursue the question of whether we ought to treat prophecy as the main course or a condiment. I think Spurgeon is making a vital point there. It's one of the things that drew me to this particular Spurgeon excerpt.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Robert,
(I won't speak for jsb.)

If your interpretation of those verses is correct, then the Word of God has failed because not every Israelite was saved.
Paul clarifies that God's Word has not failed because, (1) Not every one born into Israel belonged to 'Israel',and (2) God's elective acts.

Jeremy Weaver said...

OK, since Phil has declared it acceptable to comment on your other comment...
Prophecy is not needed????!!!!
It is if we accept Paul's teaching that the Gospel was accomplished in accordance with the Scriptures!

Jay said...

As a tentative A-mil, I have a question for the more studied:

I'm getting the impression from the discussion that pre-mil is the only view that believes in any kind of future for ethnic Israel. Is that true? I've always believed based on Romans 11 that there will be a mass, if not exhaustive, ingathering of ethnic Jews. I'm not sure why or if this would be inconsistent with an a-mil view.

donsands said...

Good thoughts from the preacher of preachers.

Seems as though the land now is the whole earth, not just what the Lord promised to Abram Gen. 13:14.

Hasn't it expanded to all nations, families, and the whole earth.

"For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea." Isa. 11:9

Robert Ivy said...

Jeremy,

All I am pointing out is that part of God's covenant with ethnic Israel is their adoption into the family of God. I don't claim to know exactly how God's word has succeeded in every instance, but I do claim that however inexplicable to us, God's covenant with ethnic Israel has the element of ultimate salvation involved.

Your understanding of Paul's resolution to the "word of God failing problem" doesn't seem to align with Rom 11:1. "Has God rejected his people (here clearly meaning ethnic Israel)? By no means!"

Yes, Gentiles have been grafted in, but that does not mean that the root is no longer the root. Even the statement: "Not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel," presupposes the understanding that someone called "Israel" belongs to "Israel." (Otherwise Paul's statement is speaking to no one.)

In other words, Paul's term, "not all," does not completely replace Jews with Gentiles, it just gives way for Gentiles to come in.

And for clarity's sake - the prophecy that I am talking about is something below (and therefore not) Scripture - like what Paul is talking about 1 Cor 14:37.

In that way, I suppose I am taking Spurgeon's words out of context, but it still seems there is a practical similarity between prophecy written in Scripture and prophecy spoken today. That is why I felt I could draw that point out of Spurgeon.

So I agree with you that everything that is written in Scripture is needed. I just see a difference between what is properly called "Scripture" and what is properly called "prophecy".

Jeremy Weaver said...

Robert,
I think you are presupposing that I believe a lot of things that I don't.
For instance, I never said anything about Israel being replaced.

JSB said...

Robert:
"All I am pointing out is that part of God's covenant with ethnic Israel is their adoption into the family of God."

I would agree with that, but that it means adoption through Christ. That is the true fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise, IMO.

The key verse seems to be Ro. 9:6b:

"For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel."

11:1 does not refer to Israel as a nation, with national destiny (for Paul has already made it clear that has been fulfilled), but to the nation as individual Jews and the issue of ultimate salvation in Christ. Paul's answer is NO! They have NOT been so rejected!

Anyway, I do see good arguments the other way on 9-11, a section that has never been entirely smooth sailing for anyone.

But my Amil position is mostly based on two things: first, the way NT interprets OT prophecy. It's not a "literal v. figurative" matter; it's more of a "limited v. transcendent" one. I see Disp. sticking with a limited view of what OT prophecy must mean.

The second matter has to do with the idea that there will be a Jewish sacrificial system in the Millennial Kingdom (based on Ezekiel). I'm not sure if all Disp. hold to this, but if so I cannot see how this idea does not denigrate the cross. I have heard some argue that the system is merely symbolic or a "reminder," but Ezekiel explicitly states it will be for "atonement" and dealing with sin. IMO, that means the "transcendent" understanding of the prophecy is best, referring to Christ.

Well, this can get awfully deep and wide for a comment section, so I'll sign off for the moment!

Doug said...

Phil said, "But it's OK to pursue the question of whether we ought to treat prophecy as the main course or a condiment."

I would think of prophecy as more of a Costo meat chub, than a condiment.

Actually, this is a matter that I am very interested in. I have always been a dispensationalist. I have recently drifted out of that into just a plain premillennialist. It is not my current plan to drift farther, but only God knows. I don't fret over this too much, but study because a lot of the Bible deals with prophecy concerning the culmination of God's plan.

Doug said...

Robert said, "Yes, Gentiles have been grafted in, but that does not mean that the root is no longer the root. Even the statement: "Not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel," presupposes the understanding that someone called "Israel" belongs to "Israel." (Otherwise Paul's statement is speaking to no one.)"

Robert, here is the problem. First, the root is Christ, not Israel. The plant is Israel and the Gentiles have been grafted in.

Also, your understanding of Paul's statement is totally convoluted. You seem to be suggesting that what Paul meant is, "Not all who belong to Israel are descended from Israel," thus making way for the Gentiles. But Paul said nothing like that and that was not the point he was making. Paul said that not all who are descended from Israel (physical descendants of Israel) are true Israel. He was pointing out how physical Israelites could have rejected the Messiah and, therefore, not been true children of Abraham (of the faith of Abraham).

One Salient Oversight said...

And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. - Galatians 3.29

Which means the prophecies in the OT about Israel are about the church.

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. - Galatians 3.7

Those who do not have faith in Christ are not sons of Abraham.

MTG said...

Not to be trite here....but one day in Sunday school our teacher (Associate Pastor) was giving us the differences between ALL of the millineum theories. I was sitting next to a gentleman who has a Ph.d in rocket science. He leaned over at me and asked. "Did you get all that?" Sheepishly I looked at him and said 'no'. He smiled ad said "Me neither, but I know it will pan out in the end."

Since then I have often though what I would do different to live my life for God as His Child based upon what theory I held to. I concluded...nothing. I like Spurgeons analogy to condiments, that's where I am...just an old pan- millienial.

The important point is: Jesus is coming again!!!Thanks for this special excerpt.

Best, Morgan

James Kime said...

I have often wondered how anyone can be amillennial. Even if you completely replace Israel with the church, that would not rule out Christ reigning on the earth for 1000 years. I will go a step further, even if you said the 1000 years were symbolic of an unspecified time to us but known by God, does that rule out Christ reigning on the earth for that time frame?

Amills want to lump all of premillenialism into dispensational premillennialism. It is as though they have not considered the fact that midtrib, posttrib, prewrath, historic, and covenant (yes covenant) views of premillennialism even exist.

Spurgeon was right on. MacArthur also correctly understood the relationship between the rise of amillennialism and the dark ages.

Bobby Grow said...

Doug said:

Robert, here is the problem. First, the root is Christ, not Israel. The plant is Israel and the Gentiles have been grafted in.

I'll "see" your assertion and "call" you on your assertion with another assertion: actually you're wrong, the Abrahamic Covenant is the root which was made with the "nation" Israel, first.

Bobby Grow said...

Doug,

you have to assume your interpretive grid, i.e. the covenental/amil grid, in order to make your assertion--which is circular.

centuri0n said...

WOW this discussion gets the hairs up quickly.

What if I believe that Christ will rule and I abstain on whether it is post-trib or pre-trib? That is: what if I read the book of revelation and say that man cannot know the date or the time of the return of Christ?

I think the prophecies of Christ's return make me anxious for Him to come, and I really want to see Him. I think the rest is a little, um, heavy on the pepper if I can elaborate on Spurgeon's metaphor.

Jacob said...

Regarding richard's post near the beginning of this Comments thread:

All Scripture including the prophetic texts related to Israel have -application- for the Church today, but those passages have their -literal fulfillment - in Israel. Please do not overlook that important distinction: Application and fulfillment. Application never replaces fulfillment. (Logically that would be ridiculous.)

The Church can be richly fed by (for example) the revelation of God's character demonstrated in His steadfast love toward Israel spoken of, promised, and exemplified so strongly in the OT, knowing that this same God is our God and He will steadfastly love the Church as well, yet the literal fulfillment of the promises (assuming a consistent, contextual literal hermeneutic as one would properly use with the inerrant, inspired, authoritative Word of God) does not change.

Jacob said...

"One Salient Oversight said...

And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. - Galatians 3.29

Which means the prophecies in the OT about Israel are about the church.

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. - Galatians 3.7

Those who do not have faith in Christ are not sons of Abraham. "


You're confusing a promise made to the physical offspring of Abraham (God's chosen people Israel (aka the Jews) with a New Testamant statement regarding spiritual offspring of Abraham. That is logically incorrect.
If you draw a Venn diagram (two circles that partially overlap), one being "offspring by Abraham's seed" and one being "offspring with Abraham's faith", they certainly can overlap but are still two distinct concepts.

Hence why Paul so strongly begins Romans chapter 9 speaking about his physical kindred the Jews to make it explicitly clear that they are not forsaken by God.

The Doulos said...

Well commented, Centurion ol' pal. I have to say that I do not have well-formed eschatological views, but lean toward premill. However, looking at these threads and countless others related to Johnny Mac's message at the SC, I have to think that there are an awful lot of us that are more concerned with being right than with being correct (in a Biblical sense). Maybe this is one reason why I have avoided formong strong opinions in this area.

Regardless of the position, all I can say is maranatha!

Robert Ivy said...

Jeremy,

Sorry if I misunderstood your position. I just thought that when you said, "When God elected the nation of Israel, the purpose of their election was bless all nations," that it meant you believed that God's purpose for Israel was complete. I just want to point out that God's purpose in electing Israel was not only to bless all the nations, but also many other things that were promised in the covenants (like ultimate salvation).

Robert

Caleb White said...

I hate to disagree with Spurgeon, but I can't believe he used such an over-simplified argument. Would he say that all Jews were original branches? If not, then the argument seems to fall apart (unless I missed something).

Also, premill isn't the only view that sees a future for Israel. As a believer in Covenant theology, I think the New Covenant is not a replacement of the old covenant, but rather a final revelation of God's covenant -- "progressive revelation," as JSB pointed out. I'm amill myself, though I avoid getting too involved in these debates. If it's a dispensational view we're talking about, I'll argue it to the ground. I don't care so much for the arguing over vague technicalities that occurs among the premill/postmill/amill/panmill crowd.

Stephen Newell said...

I think many Christians are dispensational and just don't know it. I certainly was. But now that I'm older, wiser, and better-read, I'm like Doug -- I'm just "plain pre-mil."

I wonder if any others have found it difficult to change (or even better, grow towards maturity in) their eschatological views after having held to a certain position for a long time, wittingly or unwittingly?

Robert Ivy said...

For all those who think this is an issue that's too high for us or not worth discussing,

First, understand that there are hundreds of chapters about this in the Bible. To say that all we need to say is, "Come Lord," seems like saying, "God - I really appreciate your Word and all, I just think you made it a few chapters longer than it needs to be. Can't you see those fuzzy things create division?"

I am aware that consensus is hard to come by, but I think it's worth fighting for - in brotherly love.

Second, here are my four main complaints against amillennialism, which I think show that it is an important issue.

1. It over spiritualizes Biblical prophecy (i.e. Is 2:2-4, 11:1-16, Zech 2). This is an indirect attack on the perspicuity of Scripture. Which leads to...

2. It makes the Bible nearly impossible for "ordinary Christians" to understand. I believe many of you have thrown up your hands about the end-times because of amillennial interpretations that make you say, "this is just too difficult to understand." Yet this ought not be the case with the Bible. It should be understandable to all (Jer 31:34).

3. It domesticates and tames end-time prophecy which is anything but tame.

4. In accordance with Spurgeon - what of ethnic Israel? If God's promises to them mean something so utterly other than than what they expected, what of God's promises to us?

goodnightsafehome said...

The most important question about prophecy is found in 2 Peter 3:11-12 which is basically:

"...what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness...?"

Jeremy Weaver said...

I just spent forty five minutes responding to you Robert. And stupid blogger ate my comment. I don't knwo when or if I'll get the chance to retype it. Sorry.

JSB said...

Quickly, Robert, your points:

1. It over spiritualizes Biblical prophecy ... This is an indirect attack on the perspicuity of Scripture.

But if the Bible itself (the NT) specifically does this (e.g. Acts 15) then your view is actually the one that limits Scripture. There are many instances when Premils themselves have to adopt a "figurative" view, and quietly slip out of the room (e.g. Gog and Magog)

2. It makes the Bible nearly impossible for "ordinary Christians" to understand.

This is quite irrelevant. There are other parts of the Bible that are "difficult" too. Scripture is what it is, and we have a duty to respond to that.

3. It domesticates and tames end-time prophecy which is anything but tame.

I'm not sure what this means. Where is this standard of "untame" coming from? It seems an imposition from outside Scripture. Is it in any hermeneutical treatise?

4. In accordance with Spurgeon - what of ethnic Israel? If God's promises to them mean something so utterly other than than what they expected, what of God's promises to us?

God's promises to ethnic Israel are "utterly better"! They are gloriously realized in Christ! There is no abandonment here...it's so much MORE than the time bound OT thought! (The Messianic Psalms are another example of this)

So we can glory in the fact that God's promises are always better in their realization than we can even comprehend! (Eph. 3:20)

For me, then, the Amil position is more glorious and more transcendent than dusty land-based, hard ground limitations. And these promises are now for anyone, Jew or Greek, Male or Female, slave or free. That's the message of Romans and Acts and the entire NT. And that's what I call good news.

DJP said...

James Kime -- I have often wondered how anyone can be amillennial.

Fractured hermeneutic, LOTS of denial. Just look at the comments, and blogrants set off by Mac.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

One thing absent from Spurgeon's remarks about what will happen when Christ returns is the renewal of all things...including creation. Scripture clearly ties the resurrection of all of creation with the second coming of Christ. Is the world renewed AFTER the 1000 years? If so, where is that gap in Scripture between Christ's return and the freeing of creation from its slavery to sin?

Also, maybe I missed it if anyone brought it up yet (I certainly didn't see Spurgeon refer to it in the excerpt), but I am curious if ALL pre-millers hold to a future temple during the 1000 years where people will come and make sacrifices...IN THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST...AFTER HE HAS RETURNED.

I have heard this position put forth by some that I would consider solid pre-millers, but I didn't know if that was part of all Premil positions.

If it is contained within ANY Christian's view - sacrifces within a temple taking place in the presence of a physically present Christ - then I am curious as to how Jesus would even put up with such a thing seeing as He is the ONCE-FOR-ALL sacrifice.

Why - as in the Premil view - would there be a need for animal sacrifices to be ongoing in the presence of the once-for-all sacrificed risen Lamb of God?

I find it hard to believe that Jesus would even put up with such a thing, given what the author of Hebrews tells us there is no longer the need for sacrifices.

Thanks.

Jim Crigler said...

Query: What would anyone recommend as a decent introduction to premill eschatology for either disp or non-disp? I'd prefer something readable by a layman and which spends its time asserting and showing the Biblical rationale for its own view rather than getting all worked up about refuting other views. Some of the latter is inevitable, but it should be the seasoning, not the meat of the book. Also, please don't recommend Revelation: Four views (I think I got the title right) --- I'm looking for whole-Bible eschatology, not a comparative book study.

donsands said...

jim,

I have been reading Kim Riddlebarger's, "The Man of Sin".

I thought it was going to be an easy read, but it is very deep. This pastor has done his home work.
If you haven't checked it out, you might give it a go.

graydave said...

Isn't Paul perfectly clear in Ephesians (3:3-6) and Galatians that the "mystery" that was hid is now made known and that is that gentiles are now members of the same body? The church is the "new" Israel and we shouldn't be looking for some Jewish kingdom with a new temple and temple sacrifices. Some version of the post millennialism is the only that makes sense of Revelation. I don't mean some pie in the sky, everyone will be Christian, but that the church continues to advance in the world until one day Jesus returns (Rev 20:9 to the end), judges the world and death is defeated.

[I reserve the right to say I'm wrong and change my mind in the future :-) ]

Jim Crigler said...

Don ---

Thanks for the recommendation of KR's book. My intention is to use his book called Amillenialism for the amill read (unless someone mentions something better).

jerryb said...

Brian VOC,
You seem to be troubled with Ezekiel chapters 40-48, (almost mockingly so). Should we cut out those chapters, skip over them or simply say "they don't mean what they say"?

LeeC said...

Not all sacrifice is for sins.

jsb said...

Yes, the Ezekiel sacrificial system explicitly says it is for atonement. It is for sin. But Premil has to ignore those words in its "literal" system, or else they have atonment being made in the Millennial Kingdom where Christ reigns! That denigrates the cross, so this part of Ezekiel isn't taken "literally." Premil is thus not consistent with its own hermeneutic.

OTOH, knowing that OT prophecies have a greater fulfillment in Christ, as the NT makes clear over and over again, makes everything fit.

jerryb said...

jsb
I'm glad you have become a pre-mill. (Atleast that is what I am taking from your statements)
The reason you keep misunderstanding pre-mil's is that you keep taking us literally. You should try to "read-in" from our statements what we really mean. That is unless words mean things. (I am having gentle fun with you, OK)

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Jerry,

There's need to accuse me of mocking (which I am not).

Can you address the realization that, under the Premil view, people will be coming to a temple to make atonement with sacrifices, in the very presence of the once-for-all sacrifice?

Secondly, how do you account for the gap in the Premil view between Christ's second coming, judgment and the renewal of all things, when Scripture clearly shows them happening together? Can you point me to that teaching in Scripture? It surely isn't in 2 Thes. 1, Romans 8, or Matthew 25.

Thanks.

jerryb said...

Brian you asked:

"Can you address the realization that, under the Premil view, people will be coming to a temple to make atonement with sacrifices, in the very presence of the once-for-all sacrifice"

1. The text says so, repeatedly,
2. Zech. 14 says those who refuse to come and worship the King, the LORD of Hosts and keep His feasts will be punished.
3. Can anyone say barbeque? Remember, the worshiper participated in the feasts. There will be joy and celebration in the presence of Christ.
4. To say that prophecies are simply fulfilled in the person of Christ is to deny that they are prophecy. It is to view prophecy as merely types, or better perhaps as parables. It seems just as off base as the "Openness of God" understanding. (PLEASE I am NOT saying this about you, but hear my point). There is more than one way to deny prophecy.
5. There really is very little difference between sacrifices in the OT and in the Millennium. They never really atoned for sin in the past. They expressed faith in God (Heb. 10:4).
6. Even the OT Law taught that sacrifices did not take away sin (Rom. 3:21-5). Paul says God overlooked the sin previously committed. Whenever I find people who struggle with sacrifices in the Millennium, I suggest that perhaps they misunderstand them in the OT.
7. The text says so, repeatedly.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Thanks, Jerry.

Are these people coming to make sacrifices in the millennial temple believers, or non-believers?

jsb said...

LOL, Jerry. I can't be Premil because it'll mess up my acronymn. I'm Triple A -- Arminian, Amillennial and Assured. (I could also add another A, for "A" fan of Team Pyro)

I just don't agree with you that the glorious, higher fulfillment of prophecy in Christ is not really fulfillment. It is. And it's better than land based limitations.

Re: atonement sacrifices, I would suggest these were offered on behalf of the people in the OT, and really had an actual effect. They were the condition of acceptance (cf. Ez. 43:27).

But in Christ, this has all been done away with, once for all. (Heb. 7:27)

To have this happening in a Millennial Kingdom thus denigrates Christ's work on the cross.

BTW, I do make the distinction between historic Premil and Disp. It's good to keep these distinct. The latter is, IMO, is the one that can't be supported.

jerryb said...

Great question Brian,
for the first few years they will all be believers. Then, in time others will be born who outwardly comply but are inwardly rebellious. Finally, God allows Satan to play his part one more time:

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. Rev. 20:7-9

JSB glad to see you agree with me again....
Do you see my point, friend. You expect me to listen to you and take your words literally. Should we not take God's word as seriously.

LeeC said...

Grrr, blogger ate my response....

Great summation Jerry.
What I love about this is how it so completely brings to the fore Gods longsuffering mercy even on the lost and how He has given all every opportunity, even having them sit under the reign of Christ, and yet those that are not called stil rebel.
And then we see His complete justice.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Thanks, Jerry.

So, in the Premil view, Christ's does not return on the last day, when we receive our resurrected bodies?

In that case, when will the renewal of all things take place, if not at Christ's coming?

Thanks.

JSB said...

Not sure what posts you're reading, Jerry, but I don't agree with you about the sacrifices of atonement in the Millennial Kingdom. I think limiting God's Word in the OT prophecies is not taking them seriously enough!

The OT was written for the sake of the church. The Jews as stewards "were entrusted with the oracles of God" (Rom 3:2), preserving and protecting the written OT so that God's New Covenant people may benefit from it. "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction," (Ro. 15:4) i.e., for the instruction of the church.
Yet the prophets through whom the prophecies came did not necessarily understand what they meant (1 Pet 1:10-11), but "it was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you," i.e., you who live in the era of the gospel of Christ (1 Pet 1:12). "Yes, for our sake it was written" (1 Cor. 9:10).

So all the OT Scriptures, especially the prophecies, were pointing ahead to the coming of Christ, and specifically to his first coming rather than his second coming. In giving their prophecies about Jesus, says Peter, the OT prophets were serving us "when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven" (1 Pet. 1:12).

God had the church age and the church itself in mind when he was inspiring the OT prophets to foretell the works of the coming Messiah. That all of these things had reference to a coming era when the Jew-Gentile distinction would no longer be relevant was a mystery to the Jews themselves, but the inspired apostles and NT prophets have shown that this was God's plan all along (Ro. 16:25-26; Eph 3:1-10). Now when we look at OT prophecy through the eyes of the NT writers, its veiled references to Christ and his church are clearly seen.

Thus, to limit prophecy in your fashion is to ignore what the NT says about them. It is not to take them "seriously enough."

Turretinfan said...

I got the impression that Spurgeon was more post-mil than pre-mil from the limited information provided.

-Turretinfan

Jacob said...

Just a helpful note: The matter of the sacrificial system mentioned in Ezekiel 40-48 is specifically addressed by MacArthur in General Session 5 (Q&A) from the 2007 ShepCon about 19 minutes into the session. I regret I do not have the time at this moment to transcribe it for you but perhaps someone else can serve us by quoting the ~two minutes of his answer.

mike said...

The two volumes on the book of Revelation in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary series published by Moody Press are, in my opinion, an excellent exposition of the book of Revelation from the premillennial viewpoint. I've thought that the debate about the meaning of the thousand-year earthly reign of Christ in Revelation 20:4 reminds me of the debate by the disciples in Mark 9:10 about what rising from the dead might mean. In both examples of prophecy, the words mean exactly what they say.

John Haller said...

Having read through the comments, especially those who seem comfortable with the "panmill" "position," and then listening to Dr. MacArthur's talk in General Session 1, I would suggest that some of you need to spend the $2 and download and listen to what he had to say because he will deal with that in about the first three minutes. Having studied the topic, I don't really find "panmill" comments such cute, funny or enlightened.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Mike,

I understand what you think "a thousand years" means in Rev. 20:4, but can you explain to me what that verse means when it says, "they came to life"?

Thanks.

Evan said...

Jay said...

"As a tentative A-mil, I have a question for the more studied:
I'm getting the impression from the discussion that pre-mil is the only view that believes in any kind of future for ethnic Israel. Is that true? I've always believed based on Romans 11 that there will be a mass, if not exhaustive, ingathering of ethnic Jews. I'm not sure why or if this would be inconsistent with an a-mil view."

To quickly answer your question, postmil eschatology generally accepts a grafting back in of ethnic Jews. I also know some amils who also believe that but it isn't believed in the same way that disp. premils do.

Theteak said...

I just wanna know what CT said. Is that bad...?

Jason E. Robertson said...

Phil,
Thanks for this Spurgeon quote; his passion for the gospel is always inspiring. Spurgeon here said that it was a blessing to think of the Lord's connection to this earth: to have a kingdom here as well as there; to sit upon a throne here as well as in yonder skies; to subdue his adversaries even upon this Aceldama, as in the realm of spirits; to make even this poor earth upon which the trail of the serpent is so manifest, a place where the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

But, unlike my dispy friends and heroes like Mr. Spurgeon, I believe with all conviction that Christ has been enthroned as King of Kings, and rules this earth sovereignly as the resurrected Lord, and will return triumphantly when all His sheep are in the fold.

Concerning the election of Israel, I believe has and will forever keep his promises to Israel. But Dispys need to realize that God's chosen Israel have always consisted of those who are circumcised of the heart, whether Jew or Gentile. Indeed, Paul made it clear with normal language to the Galatians that the promise to Abraham's offspring was a reference to Christ not ethnic Jews.

So I agree with Spurgeon and Dr. MacArthur that our eschatology should be consistent with our doctrine of God's faithfulness, but I would remind us that our doctrine of God's faithfulness should be consistent! God has never promised all ethnic Jews spiritual salvation -- ever! If He had, then He is already unfaithful. But Paul said that God is not slack concerning His promises, for God God has kept His promises to the "remnant" = that is God's elect which had nothing to do with ethnicity, birthrights, works, or anything else but the sovereign pleasure of God.

Just as God said that He does not live in a temple made with hands but lived in such a temple as a typological lesson, God also chose the nation of Israel to perform a typological purpose even though God said that He is not partial.

But with the coming of Christ the types are fulfilled -- including the nation of Israel.

Again, thanks for the inspiring words. -- And the great seminar, by the way, at Shepherd's. I paid $2 for it today.

Jon Unyan said...

I think that these Spurgeon comments simply prove that he wasn't right about everything. But hey, I still love the guy...

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Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

As for Revelation 20:4, the people who came to life were dead (beheaded). So, I'm guessing they were resurrected.

Okay, so...when does this resurrection take place?

donsands said...

"Zechariah 2"?

How about Zech. 12:10- 13:1,6

"And I will pour ... the spirit of grace ... and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son, ... In that Day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and yo the inhabitants of Jerusalem for the sin and for uncleanness. .... And one shall say to Him, What are these wounds in Your hands? Then He will answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends."

Isn't this Christ's glory of the Cross here?

And then Chapter 14:1-2 starts with the prophecy of 70 AD, I would think.
But verse 3-4 seems to speak of His second return.

Very difficult to understand for me, the OT prophets. Appreciate any help here.

John Haller said...

I suspect, Brian, that you really don't care. But, if you do, when does it take place in the text? There's your answer.

John Haller said...
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John Haller said...
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donsands said...

John,
That's great that many Jews are coming to Christ.

I'm not sure exactly how to interpret Zech., but I appreciate your thoughts. I will continue to study and think and pray.

The nation as a whole however rejects Christ, and so they reject the Lord God. From what I have heard from a pastor friend who has vsited Israel on two archaeological digs, it is widely a secular nation and there is much atheism as well.

I pray with all my heart the leadership of the nation would cry out to the Son for mercy, and that we would see this nation become a Messianic Israel that worships and bows the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ.
That would make me leap for joy. I have a friend and business partner who was born and raised in Israel, and loves the Lord Jesus. He is quite bold for the Savior.

His family, who reside in Israel, do not believe in Christ however. Would appreciate any prayers. He is going to Israel to visit them for three weeks this summer.
His name is Meir Tuil. Thanks.

John Haller said...

donsands:

I talked to someone whose son is in the Israeli army. He was raised in a Jewish-Catholic home and immigrated to Israel where he got saved. He reports that not too many years ago, Jews in Israel knew every other Jew in the country who was a Christian. No longer. There are too many.

It is an interesting phenomenon to watch. It is still not significant numbers, but it is growing. For most pre-mills, it was always expected that the Jews would first be regathered in their land in unbelief, then the move of God would begin and reach its final conclusion just before the second coming. I think we are seeing the beginning of that being fulfilled. I'm confident that Romans 11 means, as I think Dr. MacArthur said, an entire Jewish nation will be saved.

Even the boys over at the White Horse Inn noted the sort of uncomfortable fact of the existence of Israel when they discussed Romans 11 last year. I happen to think it's more significant than that because Jews are turning to the Lord in significant numbers.

I would recommend that you look at Hosea 5-6 where it talks about the national regeneration of Israel and Isaiah 61-63 where it talks about the national regeneration of Jews at the time of the second coming and other events surrounding it. I believe that is the fulfillment of the "all Israel will be saved" promise in Romans 11.

MacArthur's one point about looking at what was going on in Israel at the time of the first coming and comparing it to what is going on in the church today (as we near the second coming) is very much a parallel to what was going on in Israel at the time of the first coming. Some got it (even some Gentiles, like the guys who showed up from Babylon due, I think, to their familiarity with the prophecy of Daniel, but that my conjecture; we do know they showed up looking for someone very specific). I'm just finishing up a study in the class I teach on He's the One which deals with the prophecies regarding the first coming of Jesus. There are a lot of parallels to his second coming in such a study.

Jacob said...

The nation as a whole however rejects Christ, and so they reject the Lord God. From what I have heard from a pastor friend who has vsited Israel on two archaeological digs, it is widely a secular nation and there is much atheism as well.

Yes, they are still an apostate nation under the judgment of God. There are abortions there, drug use there, and everything else you would find in any other nation. When the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, then - then His favor will fully return to them.
No logical reason to expect to see a fully regenerate Israel anytime before then, yet your response indicates you seem to think premillenialists claim Israel is such. ??
Israel's current secularity and sin certainly doesn't contradict anything MacArthur exegeted because no one claims they are somehow holy or righteous.
Why do you think God so explicitly states that it will not be because of anything they do but for His holy Name that He will act to save them. They will be apostate and secular right up to the moment He breathes life into those dry bones and regenerates them.

I pray with all my heart the leadership of the nation would cry out to the Son for mercy, and that we would see this nation become a Messianic Israel that worships and bows the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well Don, if God grants you enough further years of life on this Earth to see it, your desire will be answered. ;)
This is in essence the prayer of all who understand the prophecies from the consistent hermeneutic of premillenialism. MacArthur presents it well.

We long for the day when we will see our Savior face to face and as we know his return is imminent, we pray his return be soon. "Even so, come Lord Jesus!"
At the same time, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem which we know will only come when the Savior returns in power and great glory and reveals Himself to national Israel as the Savior and yet also the one they pierced.
There are seven years to come before the second coming, however, regardless of one's belief on rapture timing. Whether we are in Heaven with Christ during those seven years, or on Earth for part or all of them, we will be lifting glad praises and worship to our Lord for his steadfast love and faithfulness to his chosen people as we see him fulfill his promises to her and bring salvation to her.

donsands said...

john,
I'll have to check out those Scriptures. Thanks.

Jacob,

I also pray for our own nation to once again bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray a lot for Nepal to bow the knee as well, for I have a good friend who has been a missionary there for 11 years.
In fact, I should be praying more for all nations to bow their knees to the King of king, and that God's mercy would come upon them, and that they would repent and belive the gospel of our Lord and Savior, as the Body of Christ sends out laborers into the harvest.

"Thy kingdom come as it is in heaven". Amen.

DJP said...

Question for all: have you ever heard a discussion in which someone's view was publicly, forcefully, truthfully and Biblically demolished, in which he said "You know, that was a fair and accurate presentation of my position, and an absolutely devastating criticism of it"? Ever?

Or doesn't every Charismatic, unitarian, hyper-preterist, liberal, universalist, relativist, emergent, or you-name-it invariably first cry "Straw man"? Even in the face of a direct hit?

In fact, isn't it the case that often the louder the cry, the more direct the hit?

Question for Puritan Man: where have I written about Ken Jones' talk, for public discussion?

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

I suspect, Brian, that you really don't care. But, if you do, when does it take place in the text? There's your answer.

John, I do care. That is why I am trying to better understand your position.

The text indicates that the souls of those beheaded, etc., came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

What I am trying to figure out is this:

1. Are you suggesting this is referring to the resurrection of all things as described elsewhere in Romans 8, 1 Cor. 15, etc?

2. If this is referring to the resurrection of all things (which Scripture clearly places together with the coming of Christ AND judgment - Matt. 25), then how can there be unregenerate people walking the face of a regenerated earth?

If you don't want to answer, fine...but don't accuse me of not caring, when I am taking the time to try and understand your position.

Thanks.

John Haller said...

OK Brian, I'll accept that in the spirit in which it was offered.

I'll just give kind of a shorthand response to your questions because books have been written and could be written to explain the answers to your questions (and there are people probably more qualified).

"1. Are you suggesting this is referring to the resurrection of all things as described elsewhere in Romans 8, 1 Cor. 15, etc?"

In a word, no. I think there are a number of resurrections. What is going on in the early part of Rev. 20 is the resurrection of the tribulation saints at the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ. That's not the end of everything. There is clearly a rebellion against Christ at the end of the millennium which implies that there are unregenerate people who populate the earth during that period. There are other millennial passages which talk about Christ ruling with a rod of iron and that again implies that there are unregenerate people.

The restoration of all things will come when there is the new heaven and new earth. That's after the millennium.



"2. If this is referring to the resurrection of all things (which Scripture clearly places together with the coming of Christ AND judgment - Matt. 25), then how can there be unregenerate people walking the face of a regenerated earth?"

I don't agree. Matthew 25 refers to the sheep and goats judgment, based on the treatment of "the least of these, my brethren." If looked at in a Jewish context (Christ's Jewish brethren, then the basis of the judgment is how the gentiles who survive the tribulation treated Christ's Jewish brethren during the tribulation (sidebar: this is probably one of the sections of scripture that is misapplied more than any other, IMO). Gentiles are judged on that basis; the goats are consigned to the lake of fire, the sheep enter the millennial kingdom where Christ rules and reigns. There's no need to judge the surviving generation of Jews because the promise of Romans 11 has now been fulfilled - all Israel shall be saved is now fulfilled. There is a national regeneration (see also Hosea 5-6). There are passages in Isaiah (reference escapes me at the moment) that certainly suggest that these gentile people who enter the millennium will have children and will be judged for their actions during that period. Thus, I don't see how you can conclude that all things have been restored. The passage I am thinking about says something to the effect that if someone during the millennium only lives to 100, then that will be a sign of sin.

At the end of the millennium, Satan is loosed, there is a rebellion and then comes the final judgment, followed by the restoration of all things, really the new heaven and the new earth.

In summary, I don't agree that Matthew 25 is the final judgment.

Those answers are way too truncated, but will have to do for now.

Hope that helps. Now don't make me break out my charts. :-)

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Phil Johnson said...

Let me reiterate what I said when I made this post: This was not an invitation to discuss John MacArthur's Shepherds' Conference message here. There are other venues where that discussion is already going on. I cited two above. Please: if you really are itching for a dispute about this, take it off site.

Although we here at TeamPyro don't mind a good bare-fisted theological brawl over matters essential to the gospel, we actually do try to steer clear of hostilities when people start getting nasty over secondary and tertiary matters.

Now, for those who missed the reference, the title of this post was a facetious echo of the title of this post at Pulpit live. No one (including MacArthur, Spurgeon, or the guys who post at Pulpit) is seriously arguing that you simply cannot be considered a true Calvinist unless you are a full-bore premillennialist. Rather, both Spurgeon and MacArthur were saying that one of the main reasons they believe God is not finished with national Israel (and that Christ's kingdom will come to earth when He returns) is because they believe in the doctrine of election and God's sovereignty. I.e., some of us are premillers because of our Calvinism, not in spite of it.

Yes, my title deliberately overstated the case. If I ever imagined that so many otherwise-intelligent people would misunderstand such an obvious overstatement, and that they would take time writing straight-faced arguments pleading that Calvinists can be (and usually are) amill or postmill instead, I would have expressly conceded that point and saved everyone a lot of wasted time.

In any case, thanks to those on both sides who reminded me so vividly why I find most eschatalogical arguments diversionary and utterly distasteful—especially in an era when so much of the real essence of gospel truth is under siege.

We now return you to our regularly-scheduled topics.